March 2015
Howle's Hints

Let’s Talk Turkey

  Chainsaw chains have a small hash mark indicating the angle to run the file through the teeth for a sharp chain every cutting.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

In an age of iPhones, on-demand service, and impatience, it’s hard for a lot of modern-day folks to wait on things. I’m reminded of that fact any time I drive through a major city. I’m usually going at or below the speed limit simply trying to concentrate on my lane and praying I didn’t pass my exit while impatient horns sometimes blow. Meanwhile, folks are darting in and out of traffic as if they learned to drive from a videogame, not realizing they are responsible for 2 tons of steel and plastic.

Another example of impatience is through the use of technology. Immediate, online banking services, direct deposit of paychecks and the ability to use plastic cards for speedy services can have drawbacks. Now that North Korea and other anti-American countries have shown they have the ability to attack our most "secure and safe" institutions, and department stores are reporting the compromise of customer card numbers each year, it may be time to wean ourselves off some of the technology now holding us hostage.

Maybe we can get off Facebook and actually go visit someone in person. Maybe some of our government officials can begin delivering top secret, sensitive information through armed guards and store the hardcopy information in a safe instead of tweeting and texting the information. Finally, maybe, just maybe, we can get young people off the machines long enough to develop truly innovative ideas like cures for disease and cheaper fuels.

This March try planting seeds that develop patience. First, get the kids in the garden and let them plant seeds that will develop into fruit over time. Get the kids off the machines and teach them to identify tree varieties in your area. Finally, teach the kids as many hands-on skills as you can while they are young and, remember, a hands-on skill is not navigating through an iPhone screen.

Chainsaw Savvy

Spring is near, so it’s time to finish up the last of the firewood and clearing of the pasture edges. We’ve heard the expression, "There’s a lot of sawdust on the ground." Actually, a properly sharpened chainsaw chain will blow out saw chips instead of sawdust. The dust indicates that the teeth are dull and aren’t biting out the proper amount of wood.

Fortunately, modern chainsaw chains have small hash marks on the top of the teeth to show the correct angle for running the file through the teeth. There will be a section of the chain where two teeth are turned in the same direction. This is where I start sharpening and where I end.

Box Call for Beginners

March is a magical time for the woods. The dead of winter is over, and the first few buds of spring show up. Moreover, March is a great month to hear the echoing thunder of a gobbler turkey in the woods. If you’ve always wanted to hunt one of these majestic birds of the woods but were intimidated seeing callers make eloquent noises with nothing more than a piece of diaphragm plastic in their mouth, don’t worry.

The box call is all you need for calling a tom turkey. Make sure the paddle of the box is covered with chalk to provide the friction and resistance for calling. Simply slide the paddle across the top of the box for soft yelps, and let the paddle drag slowly across the box for purrs. With nothing more than these two simple calls, you should have a tom coming in your direction if he’s in the area.

Once he starts coming in your direction, stop calling. Slowly and carefully, bring your shotgun into position when there is a tree between you and the tom so you won’t spook him. Turkeys are experts at detecting motion, sound and colors. If they could smell, hunters wouldn’t have a chance.

Timed Mowing for More Turkeys

It’s a frustrating experience to cut hay and discover you’ve ruined a turkey nest full of eggs. For better survival rates for eggs to hatch into turkey poults, you can strategically time your mowing to allow for eggs to hatch. According to biologists with the National Wild Turkey Federation, you can leave field edges of about 30 feet unmowed during May and early June for about six weeks to keep from destroying nests.

In addition, keep cattle, sheep and horses from overgrazing fields in early spring from April to June so hens can have more nesting areas. If you do jump a hen off her nest, don’t try to incubate the eggs or return to the nest to show your friends. Making a trail to the nest could cause the hen to abandon the nest and allow predators such as skunks, opossums, raccoons, foxes or coyotes to find the nest and destroy it.This March plant some seeds not only in the garden or the pasture but also into our younger generation, and have the patience to wait for the fruit to appear. The results may not be immediate or on-demand, but the fruit will be worth the wait.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.